I thought it would be fun to post weekly tidbits of garden information to keep the spirit of gardening alive through the winter season. I hope each post will offer some new insight for you and offer you a glimpse into the soul, history, and love of plants, gardens and gardening.

Here is the first of a series of factlets. I hope you find the information insightful and enjoyable!

Jane Colden (March 27, 1724 – March 10, 1766)

Jane Colden is most remarkable due to the fact that she achieved such high regards in the scientific community as a renowned botanist. It was typical for women to be considered incapable of studying science during the time she was documenting plants. A women’s primary role, in that time period of history, was to be of servitude to their husbands and family.

Jane Colden was a master of scientific techniques and a plant nomenclature (naming) system developed by Carolus Linnaeus. Due to her amazing abilities, her father introduced her to the botany community. She began to correspond with many contemporary botanists. Many of the botanists she shared information with include John Ellis, Peter Collinson, Charles Alston, Robert Whytt, J. F. Gronovius, and Carolus Linnaeus, who was her primary inspiration.

Between 1753 and 1758 she collected and cataloged over 300 plants found growing around the lower Hudson River Valley in New York. She identified and named the plants using an identification system that was developed by Carolus Linnaeus. She was the first scientist to describe the gardenia, named after a botanist colleague, Alexander Garden. Her work and observations of the gardenia was one of her most important contributions to science.

In the 1990’s, Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site established the Jane Colden Native Plant Sanctuary to honor her contribution to botany.